North Belfast Harriers held their popular Afternoon of 5000m races meet at Mary Peter’s Track in Belfast last Saturday.
The meet attracted many top athletes, both domestic and international, who were kicking off their track seasons. A number of these athletes also would’ve had their eyes firmly set on qualifying times for major events this summer such as the Commonwealth Games which takes place in Birmingham this year from the 28th of July to the 8th of August.
In total there were eight 5000m races on the day, six Men’s races and two Women’s races.
The Women’s A Race was arguably the standout race of the day and closed the programme. Conditions were glorious and temperatures were high but thankfully that didn’t seem to impede performances too much.
Annabel Simpson (Fife AC, Scotland), Ann Marie McGlynn (Letterkenny AC), Hannah Irwin (Cambridge and Coleridge AC, England), and Morag Millar (Central AC, Scotland) were the main contenders in the race and their quality shone through. With the pace probably being a little slower than anticipated the leading athletes made their move before Simpson pulled away.
Simpson built up a solid lead, but McGlynn slowly began to make inroads on the Scott, however she proved too difficult to catch and took the win in 15.44.87. McGlynn was ecstatic when she crossed the line in 15.46.08 to break the long standing Irish O40 5000m record of 15.47.73 which was held by Anne Keenan Buckley of North Laois AC since a race in Santry back in 2002. A twenty-year record was to last no longer. Just behind McGlynn was Hannah Irwin who held off Millar by just one second.
The next two Irish finishers also produced very strong times, securing two PBs. Aoife Kilgannon of Sligo AC was 5th in 16.07.64, while DCU student and St. Coca’s AC athlete Aoife O’Cuill broker her PB by 19 seconds to finish 7th in 16.12.26.
A visiting athlete also took victory in the Men’s race. Kristian Jones of Swansea Harriers, Wales was a comfortable winner having nearly twenty seconds to spare on the chasers. He clocked a time of 14.14.06.
Ben Branagh of St. Malachy’s AC finished 2nd in 14.33.15. The battle for third was fought all the way to the line with Kevin Moore of Dundrum AC, Co. Tipperary holding off Thomas Devaney of Castlebar AC, Co. Mayo by just 0.39 of a second. Moore ran 14.36.44 to Devaney’s 14.36.83.
In the other races there were wins for Jake Lennox of Annadale Striders (Men’s F), Lucas Cairns of Inverness Harriers, Scotland (Men’s E), Sean McLaughlin of North Down AC (Men’s D), Jonny Spratt of Annadale Striders (Men’s C), Owen Miller of Fife AC, Scotland (Men’s B) and Ciara Toner of City of Derry Spartans AC (Women’s B).